Praying without prejudice!
In an ancient day when xenophobia was rife.
Solomon’s great prayer takes a “turn” this morning.
For some reason he prays not only for the people of Israel, but for those of foreign descent as well. And I doubt I would have ever written a Lesson on this aspect of prayer, likely not even thinking of such a thing. Yet, because of systematic Bible teaching, here we are!
Solomon at prayer, with the whole congregation of Israel:
“Moreover concerning the stranger, which is not of thy people Israel, but is come from a far country for thy great name’s sake, and thy mighty hand, and thy stretched out arm; IF THEY COME AND PRAY IN THIS HOUSE; then HEAR THOU FROM THE HEAVENS; even from thy dwelling place, AND DO ACCORDING TO ALL THAT THE STRANGER CALLETH TO THEE FOR; that all people of the earth may know thy name, and fear thee, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.” 2nd Chronicles 6:32-33
The noun “stranger” is “nakriy,” not the normal word for “gentile!” It means an “alien,” not an indigenous citizen of a given land. But it is derived from “noker,” a Hebrew word meaning “calamity, disaster, misfortune.” Someone who is in your country … because they have been endangered in their native land! A true “refugee!”
But there’s possibly more here, about this “stranger.”
He or she has come to Israel “for God’s great Name’s sake.” Because of God’s “Mighty Hand!” And “stretched out Arm,” in protection and provision!
Here’s a potential “convert” to the Faith!
Hungry for God!
No wonder this man or woman will want to pray!
And Lord, if they PRAY … please answer!
That’s what Solomon literally petitions our Lord!
Again the words of this request: “If they come and pray in this house; then hear thou from the heavens, even from thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for.”
At this point in Solomon’s life, middle age, he is yet living for God!
But why such a prayer?
It is “evangelistic” in nature, folks.
Read more now. This clause is called a “statement of purpose,” why God might desire to answer these prayers. “… that ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH MAY KNOW THY NAME, AND FEAR THEE, as doth thy people Israel, and may know that this house which I have built is called by thy name.” Answers to prayer, as a soul-winning tool!
I am impressed.
But one caution needs to be stated.
Solomon violated his own norm here.
Instead of converting these foreigners to his Faith … he allowed himself to be introduced to their various corrupted faith systems! He adopted their heathen practices!
He let them “turn his heart!”
He loved and married many of those “strange” women, 1st Kings 11:1 specifically says.
“And Solomon had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. for it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.” 1st Kings 11:3-4
Soul-blending, not good!
Think of it, the body of today’s Lesson. Praying for God to answer the prayers of someone else! What a lovely thought!
— Dr. Mike Bagwell